Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund to Expand Fivefold by 2016

Nigeria plans to increase its sovereign wealth fund fivefold to $5 billion within three years, Minister of State for Finance Yerima Ngama said.

Differences between Nigeria’s federal government and state governors, which have delayed additional transfers to the fund, may be resolved soon by expanding the representation of the states on the board of the sovereign wealth authority, Ngama said today in an interview in London. “Once we look at the board and say, ok, state governors, bring your own representatives on the board, I think it will solve it.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, set up a wealth fund in May 2011 to invest savings made from the difference between budgeted oil prices and actual market prices. Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people relies on crude exports for more than 90 percent of foreign income and about 80 percent of government revenue, making it vulnerable to swings in prices.

The wealth fund, which was signed into law in May 2011 and will start making investments next month, will help meet budget shortfalls in the future, provide dedicated funding for development of infrastructure and keep some savings for future generations, according to the law establishing it.

The country’s economic output is forecast to expand more than 6.7 percent this year, the estimate made by the International Monetary Fund, Ngama said. The national budget, yet to be signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, is based on a 6.5 percent increase in the country’s gross domestic product this year.

The government may issue a planned $1 billion Eurobond and a $500 Diaspora Bond after the National Assembly works out details, Ngama said without elaborating. The parliament has already approved the borrowing plan though it still needs to “streamline certain areas,” he said. The ministry wants to issue the bonds in the first half of the year, he said.

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